Being a Minority in a Panhellenic Sorority

My name is Salma Hamze. I am a Latina Middle Eastern woman in a Panhellenic sorority. If you’re someone who is reading this and isn’t familiar with Greek Life, then you’re probably wondering, “How is she even in a sorority?” “How does she even fit in?” 

At George Mason University, I was able to find my people within my chapter and through my sorority and sisterhood, I was able to find Her Campus. If I wasn’t in Greek Life, I wouldn’t be a part of a huge team of women that I’ve come to grow and love. I wouldn’t have the space to write about the things that I care about. 

I’m a big advocate on representation in everything: media and in real life. 

I knew going through recruitment I wanted to be able to find girls that looked like me and thought like me. Naturally, that would be hard. I grew up abroad, I’m not what all these girls look like. I was scared.

All I knew about sororities is what I knew from film and television, which is the worst example of Greek Life to ever exist. I thought these girls would be stuck up, that they would be entitled, that they would be lazy and I thought they wouldn’t care about their grades. But still, I wanted to judge for myself and hopefully be proven wrong. 

I was. I was so proven wrong. 

Walking into each room and learning about the passion these women have for the chapter and for the work that they do. I learned that all chapters have a  different set of values that they uphold at all times. These values are the things that all these women have in common. 

All these women may have different interests and different goals, which is diversity within itself. After talking to multiple sisters from each chapter, I learned that these women are the opposite of the cookie-cutter stereotype you see in films. Some of these women want to go to law school, some want to go to medical school, some want to start non-profits. Sorority women are goal-oriented women who take charge. During my recruitment process, I knew that these strong women are the ones that I wanted to be around. These are the women I wanted by my side so I could grow into the successful woman I wanted to be. 

There were a few things I was hesitant about. Being a brown skinned girl is a historically white community. 

Something that I try to do with my career, goals and life is make room for myself at the tables where there isn’t room for people like me to begin with. I want future latina and middle eastern girls to look at me and say “I can do it because Salma did.” 

Related: Zeta Tau Alpha’s Panhellenic Queen: Megan Adreance

My ancestors and women in the past were able to open so many doors for me to be where I am today: a college-educated woman with the world in the palm of my hands. And I have to do my part and open doors for future women. I have to be uncomfortable and fight now, so no girls have to fight later. 

I’m also lucky to go to George Mason where Greek Life here is diverse where I can find girls that come from different walks of life. I've met girls from so many different cultural backgrounds and I learned about different countries, cultures and persoectives on life. 

That’s why I took the risk and went out for recruitment. I wanted to be the person to open doors, I wanted girls that go through recruitment in the future to feel accepted and welcome. I want girls to feel like that belong because they see a girl who looks like them and can relate to their experiences. 

I love my chapter and I love my sisters. I am thankful for the opportunities I’ve had, the chances I’ve had to grow and learn. I hope that women going through recruitment this year will feel that they can also make a difference and feel that they can make space for themselves at the table.